Institute showcases work of “Underground” artists


For The Daily Gazette


 Did you feel the earth move the other day? If the public response is any indicator, the Albany Underground Artists have shaken the local art scene to its foundation.

 With “The Institute Show: Selections from the Underground,” a four-day exhibit by 70 local artists, the homegrown artists have cracked into the venerable Albany Institute of History & Art, a venue that promises exposure to a wider audience.

 More than 1,000 people attended the opening reception last Thursday, one of the biggest turnouts ever at the Institute, and Sunday afternoon there was a steady stream of visitors checking out the 87 paintings, photographs, sculpture, mixed-media works and sound/video pieces on the Institute’s second floor.

 The gallery guest book, stationed next to an Albany Underground Artists donation box, was overflowing with positive comments.

“We need shows like this everywhere,” one person wrote.

“Best show I’ve seen in Albany in quite awhile,” said another. “How can I get into the next show?

 At least two writers suggested that Albany Underground might need a name change, as an Institute exhibit was hardly an “underground” event.


See INSTITUTE, page D6


‘The Institute Show: Selections from the Underground’

WHERE: Albany Instiute of history & Art, 125 Washington Ave., Albany

WHEN: Through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (museum closed today)

HOW MUCH: $7 for adults, $5 for seniors/students, $3 for children 6-12; younger children free

MORE INFORMATION: 463-4478, or

Photo Credit: MARK GREGORY

 Photo Caption: Visitors view the work on exhibit at “The Institute Show: Selections from the Underground” at the opening reception. The show, at the Albany Institute of History and Art, will be open to the public on Wednesday.


Institute: Albany Underground artists generating a buzz

 Continued from page D1

 “We’ve created a buzz,” Mark Gregory said Sunday, during a stop at the Institute with Chip Fasciana to see how many of the artworks had been sold.

“This is our biggest event yet. We’ve always done a one-night show.”

Albany artists Gregory, Fasciana and Tommy Watkins launched Albany Underground Artists two years ago with a mission to provide more gallery spaces for local artists to show their work.

Trapping into everyone’s hunger for something new, they created art happenings at unexpected places, and the one-night exhibits in abandoned and neglected downtown Albany buildings attracted thousands of viewers.

After painting and cleaning the old Carosella Bakery on Lark Street, they staged “The Bakery Show,” followed by “The Bank Show” in the vacant Home Savings Bank on Pearl Street. Last winter, with the blessing of the Downtown Albany Businesses Improvement district, there was “Sixteen Windows of Art,” innovative artist installations in empty downtown storefront, a three-month exhibit.

In the pat year, 200 local artists have show their work, thanks to Albany Underground.

Back at the museum, “The Institute Show” occupies the same 4,600 square feet of gallery space where we saw the Mohawk Hudson Regional less than two weeks ago, a situation that may momentarily prompt a sense of déjà vu.

“It’s like the Regional Part Two,” the person at the admission desk says.

At the entrance, the words “Underground Artists” are boldly trumpeted in a painting that suggest a dark sky and fiery clouds, and there’s a sign listing Chip, Mark and Tommy’s phone numbers if you wish to make a purchase.

            Although the artwork is the same caliber or maybe even better than what we saw at the Regional, it’s the paintings that are the most exciting. Unlike at the Regional, prices for the pieces, which range from $200 to $11,000, are listed on each label.

Gray tones of oil paint are brushed on the shards of Chinese newsprint to form rock shapes, mist and water in “Waterfall: I Breathe for You” by Chris Murray.

Tara McKiernam Korach captures the capriciousness of spring with feathery arcs of her brush and cool green and blues that tumble and roll across two large panels.

In the smallest gallery, there are political pieces with strong opinions, include “Saddam” by Mike Wirth, a giclee print on canvas in which the defeated Iraqi leader wears a confused look and a tiny nuclear weapon on his lapel.

Among the sculpture, Fay wood’s “Aftertaste” demands the most attention, with its somewhat grotesque, round female shape reclining on an ivory colored divan, like an Asian courtesan. Made with found wooden objects and beeswax, it’s an anatomical study, with bones and muscles finely crafted and joined.

Gregory, Fasciana and Watkins picked the works from slides, photographs and digital prints, and more than half of what was submitted wasn’t selected.

Any artist could enter and they didn’t have to be an Albany resident. For some of the artists, it was their first juried exhibit.

“There are people of all ages,” says Gregory. “We have a 16-year-old student.”

After the three artists made their selections, the Institute staff took over, hanging and promoting the show.

For other exhibits, the Underground artists have had to rely on artist volunteers and patrons to prepare space and pay promotional expenses.

“We’ve got to get support when we can,” says Fasciana. “And it’s not just money. It’s our down time. We’re spending hundreds of hours.”

As artists who work at regular jobs themselves, they understand the challenge of supporting yourself as an artist. “We want to be able to function as independent artists,” says Fasciana

People in the Capital Region don’t have to go to New York City to buy art, he says. “We want artists and collectors to connect.”

So, where will Albany Underground turn up next? “We don’t have a ‘what’s next,’” says Gregory. “This has all taken all of our effort. We’re still in the afterglow.”